There are a lot of things to consider on the journey to muscle gain, but starting with these five important tips will not only give you proper direction on where to begin but also help you assemble the tools you need for your journey. Muscle gain is also an important part of weight loss so keep that in mind before jumping on the treadmill again.
- Determine What Muscle Gain Means To You
Before you start with any type of weight training, start with some inner reflection first. You may have a good idea about your reasons behind your physical goals and training, or your why, but you should also think about the what, meaning what does your desirable ideal self look like to you?
Gaining muscle means strength training using hypertrophy methods and eating in a way that supports this end goal. However, gaining muscle means something different to every woman. One woman’s big and bulky could be another person’s fit and athletic, which is why it’s so important to understand what this means for you. Having a clear view of just how much muscle you wish to gain and where you want to gain it will help you come up with a plan to accomplish that. It will also give you something to return to as a reference guide throughout the challenges and roadblocks of the muscle building process as well, and you know there will be many challenges along the way.
Keep in mind that adding muscle to your body may not go as you plan sometimes; it can take more time, it might not show up where you wanted or thought it would, or it may develop quicker or in a greater amount than you expected.
Training for muscle hypertrophy as a woman can play tricks on your mind. Being able to refer back to your vision and goal for muscle gaining will keep you grounded and focused, motivated and feeling great – mentally, physically and emotionally.
- Get to know Hypertrophy
Strength training in general is outstanding; it’s therapeutic and empowering. Training specifically to increase your strength can be reasonably effective at also increasing some level of muscle mass; but for maximum muscle gain, training for hypertrophy is the only way to go.
Hypertrophy training is more commonly known and used in bodybuilding; it is focused on a moderate rep range (6 to 12 repetitions) using three to six sets per exercise, and 3 to 4 or more exercises per body part. As far as volume(total amount of work done), it’ll be on the higher side and lean towards increased frequency of training, higher intensity and muscle isolation. This may sound totally different from what you’re currently doing, or it may not, but it will be different from a traditional strength training program especially if you’re doing any programs from Instagram or Pinterest or magazines or standard group classes with no tracking or focus. You’ll be focusing on how your muscles feel and chasing that feeling versus focusing on increasing your lifting loads just for the sake of lifting more weight.
Hypertrophy is a style of training that’s both unique and fun. There’s nothing else that connects you to your body and muscles fully, facilitates an awesome mind-muscle connection and straddles the line between pleasure and pain so perfectly. There’s also a reason people have been bodybuilding since the 1800s: because it works. Hypertrophy training is about consistency, moderate reps, higher volume and that feeling I just mentioned(the pump); it’s not a place for ego, but a place for results. Many things can work for you, and you’ll likely have to experiment with different methods as you explore hypertrophy.
- Have a Game Plan
Building muscle begins with a plan, and it’s entirely necessary to have a hypertrophy training plan specific to your goals, but several steps need to be considered first. Starting with the question we addressed earlier – what does gaining muscle look like for you? Take time to answer these follow-up questions below:
- Are you looking for a short-term plan to get more tone for a special occasion?
- Is it something you want to play with and experiment for one training cycle or program?
- Is it something you’re invested in as a long-term training program?
- Are you a beginner to strength training, or a beginner to hypertrophy training?
Your answers to these questions are a good starting point for choosing the right coach, or building the right plan that’ll give you the maximum amount of results.
When you have a clear view on your objectives and goals, you can explore the practical side of things, like moving from the what to the how. For example, you can choose a plan based on split workouts focusing on a certain body part or a group of body parts each day throughout the week, or you can choose a plan that focuses on total body workouts. You can also choose the frequency and duration of workings; having workouts that are shorter five days a week, or longer workouts four days a week. You can choose to specialize for a period of time, to “bring up” or “focus” on a particular muscle or muscle group, or you can take a more generalized approach.
You’re lifting experience will also play a factor. If you’re newer to lifting weights or hypertrophy training, you may want a plan on the lower end of the volume spectrum, and progress as you become more familiar with the training. If you’ve been lifting weights or training for a while, and you want to increase in muscle size substantially, you’ll probably have to incorporate more volume or more advanced intensity techniques such as trisets, pyramid sets, drop sets, negative reps, partial reps, etc.
When it comes to building muscle for women, the methodology is going to be similar as it is for men. Keep in mind, that women are able to handle a bit more volume and frequency than men(IE: Higher tolerance for pain), as long as rest and recovery are in line with the energy exerted during lifting. Using any random strength training program and just going with it isn’t enough; remember that strength training alone will only get you so far, and that you’ll need something a little more specialized to reach your true potential and continue to make gains in muscle growth.
- Be Patient
There is a misconception that strength training or lifting weights will automatically make you put on muscle instantly, especially for women. Based on science and experience, that’s just not the case, and setting expectations for the process is extremely important.
The average, natural female has the potential to add half a pound to a pound of muscle per month…let’s go over that again shall we… the average, natural female has the potential to add ½ a pound to 1 pound of muscle each month…., but this takes a carefully thought-out hypertrophy plan, completed with consistency and dedication, for an extended period of time. Not to mention optimal nutrition, sleep, stress management and more. It won’t happen overnight or without effort. Nor will lifting weights make you big and bulky.
Building muscle can take many months or many years; it’s going to take patience and persistence, but if you stick with it, you’ll enjoy the rewards that come along the way.
- Understand and Commit to the Process and Yourself
Hypertrophy training is definitely not for everyone; it’s hard work and a process that takes time. You need to be diligent about scheduling and completing your workouts consistently. You need to be on top of your nutrition to support proper muscle repair, growth and full recovery as well. Making sacrifices for your goals is something you’ll get used to whether it’s short-term or forever. Prepare yourself for the bumps, twists and turns that happen along your journey, and how you approach that journey will eventually determine what you get out of this process.
It isn’t about finding the magic technique or the perfect plan; it’s about dedication, consistency and curiosity. Staying focused but being willing to shift that focus when you need to or when your body tells you to.
The sooner you get in the right frame of mind for this process, the sooner you’ll see results – your best results. Explore the possibilities, but trust the process.
Start your shift today!
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